Green Egg

I have two Ameracauna hens and I thought they never were going to give me a colored egg! I was so excited today when I found my first green egg!


His Promise

When I contemplated writing this blog entry today, I thought about the question of how detailed did I want to make it? The whole entry could be simply put

It's a girl!

However, there is so much more detail surrounding this entry, that I scarcely know where to start. I guess I will start with Butter Cupp as the whole story, in one way or another, revolves around her. Or maybe I need to go back even further to Nelly because that is where the story actually begins.

Nelly was a young heifer and I had just recently put her in with Peanut, our young bull to be bred. I advertised her on Craig's List and a lady responded to the ad wanting to know if she and her husband could stop by here on their way home from vacation, as they lived near D.C. and were passing through our area. We arranged a time and she and her husband stopped, visited a while and put a down payment on Nelly. I explained to them at the time, that Nelly was very "green" and seemed to have some temperament issues that I just was not sure that she would overcome, but promised them I would let them know in a few weeks what I honestly felt about the match. Before the couple left, I told them that I had recently lost my son. I remember the lady hugging me. I remember the sincerity with which she and her husband promised to remember me in prayer. Those days so recently after Josh's death were such a blur in my mind as I was still in shock.

After trying to work with Nelly some, I really felt uneasy about her being paired with a beginner who had no experience with large animals. I wrote the lady an email and told her that the decision was hers but I would refund their money if they decided not to get Nelly or I would offer them Butter. Butter was an older, experienced cow and I knew would do well for her. However, shortly after that, I woke up one morning to find Butter on the ground and unable to get up. You can read about that terrible week here.

After that week, I just could not in good conscience sell Butter without revealing to the nice couple all that had happened and giving them the opportunity to have their deposit refunded. After some serious thought, the couple decided that Butter would not be the best choice for them. They also found a dairy closer to home where they would be able to buy some young heifers of their own.

I was so confused at that time wondering why Butter had become ill or injured (as well as her herd-mate Maya who had become ill at the same time with different symptoms). We had always had a healthy herd and had no problems before. My two girls dropped weight and began to look like skeletons. The vets we had out ran blood tests and could find nothing wrong with them. So, we began a regimen of trying to feed them well and get weight back on them.

During this time of caring for Butter in such an intimate way, she and I became very bonded. She trusted me and I really fell in love with her. Imagine how thrilled I was when I had the vet out one day and he palpated her and said that she was indeed pregnant. She had not been with a bull since before her "down" period. It was a miracle that she had not slipped the calf during the whole ordeal.

Over the months since that time in the fall of last year, the lady who came to look at Nelly and then "bought" Butter have become very close friends. She is so very dear to me and we email frequently. Often, our talk is about cows but many times it is much more than that. She has never ceased to amaze me at how she knows exactly when to remind me that she is praying for me. Even though it did not work out for her to buy a cow from me, the cows are what brought us together on that day last fall and I have no doubt our friendship will never end.

Now fast forward to this week. For some reason, I have had a really hard time and have struggled with being really down. I think, it is probably because I am fast approaching the one year anniversary of Josh's death. As the seasons change, we will enter fall. What was always the favorite season for both Josh and myself, will now hold new challenges for me. As much as I try to focus on the beauty of the years that I got to spend with Josh, my loss sometimes overwhelms me.

Anyone who frequents this blog knows that rain reminds me of my son and for the last two evenings, as the night has come closing in, there has been an evening shower and then a beautiful rainbow at the end of it. Last night I saw the rainbow for the second night in a row and later as I stood outside in the dusk of the evening with my cows and allowed the big tears to finally come streaming down my face, I began to sob and asked God to please, please give me something to hold onto and something to encourage me because I was sad. It was then that I had the thought that the rainbows in the sky had been from God.

Later, I received a message from two different people about rainbows. One lady wrote and said that her young daughter always called the rainbow "God's Promise" and the other message came from my friend, Diane, the lady I told you about above that was going to buy Butter from me. The message is posted on this blog under the picture of the rainbow and simply states "His Promise".

As I stood and contemplated "His Promise" last night, the thought came to me that if Butter calved and it was a heifer, I would name it "Promise". My little "Promise" would be God's gift to me to help encourage me through this rough time I was having.

And today, shortly after noon, I was present as my Miracle cow who was never expected to survive gave birth to her heifer calf. (Anyone who reads my blog knows that heifer calves are rare on this farm as we usually get bull calves.) Her official name on her registration as a percentage cow with AMJA will be PeanutButter Cupp as her father is Peanut and her mother is Butter Cupp. However, that will not be the common name that I call her. Rather, she will always be my "Promise".

To make a beautiful day even more special, would you believe that as I was milking this evening that I looked out the door and a gentle rain was falling. Yet, I noticed the sun was shining. I stepped away from the cow I was milking and looked up into the sky and there, for the third day in a row, was my rainbow...............................His Promise.

Genesis 9:13 (The Message)

12-16 God continued, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I'm putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I'll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I'll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth."


Pickled Peppers

Wash and slice peppers. If handling hot peppers, be sure to wear gloves to protect your skin.

Pack raw peppers into pint jars.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to each pint jar.

Pour hot brine over peppers, wipe rims to clean them, place lid and band on jar.

Process in hot water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Recipe for brine:

4 cups sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp celery seeds


Chunky Salsa

Today I am making Salsa. I have been using this recipe that I found in the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook for several years now. My daughter and her friend's think it's awesome and wipe me out no matter how much I can!

7 pounds of ripe tomatoes
10 fresh Anaheim or Poblano Chile Peppers seeded and chopped (3 cups)
1/3 cup seeded an chopped fresh jalapeno chile peppers
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1 cup vinegar (I use 1/4 - 1/2 cup myself but do so at your own risk as the vinegar helps ad acidity to the final product and protect against food poisoning. We have been eating it for several years with no ill affects with less vinegar.)
1/2 of a six ounce can (1/3 cup) of tomato paste
5 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Chop tomatoes and place in a large colander to drain for thirty minutes.

Place in 8 quart heavy kettle. Bring to boiling and reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for about 1 1/4 hours or until thick. Stir frequently to keep from sticking. Add the rest of the ingredients. Return to boil, reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Ladle hot salsa in to hot pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Process for 15 minutes in hot water bath.



Nelly is Naughty No More

Once upon a time I wrote about how naught Nelly was and you can read about it here.

Nelly is not so naughty anymore. In fact, Nelly has turned out to be an awesome young cow. She is what we call a "first calf heifer". That means that this is her first time to calve and everything is new to her. The birth experience, the calf, being a mother, nursing the calf and being milked by humans. Never having been affectionate and not doing well tied up short or put in small spaces, I was a little concerned about how Nelly would adjust to the milking routine. I am happy to say that there could not have been an easier cow to teach! She has been absolutely wonderful. There were a few kicks in the beginning but they weren't the kind that are meant to take one's head off. Instead it was more of the kind that said, "I am engorged and sore and it really hurts when you go squeezing on my teats like that!" She has settled into the routine with ease now and does not kick. The first few times in the stanchion, she peed and pooped but she has stopped doing that as well. She seems very relaxed in the stanchion now. In fact, the morning when I finished milking her, she was free to go but instead hung around for a while. She couldn't make me more proud!

I have held on to Nelly longer than I intended to because I just wanted to make sure that she was going to turn out to be a good family cow. As fate would have it, a very nice man and his family came to visit and really like Nelly. This weekend, Nelly will be going to her new home to live with her new family and I can send her away with confidence, knowing that once she adjusts to her new routine, she will make them a wonderful cow.

The hard part is that over the course of this journey with Nelly, I have grown to love her. It will be hard to see her go.


Frantic Pace

We have had a mild summer with temps that have been very tolerable up until yesterday! I don't know what the official temperature was, but it was hot and humid! It didn't help that I was canning tomato juice and that we don't have AC! Then, to end my day with a "bang", one of the jars of tomatoes burst in the canner. What a mess and what a waste of all that hard work! The other jars seemd to seal all right, thank goodness.

My days are starting earlier and I am going to bed later and it seems I just can't get everything done! I have this huge list of things in my head that need to happen but it seems I am spinning my wheels. I am out of sugar and dishwasher soap, so I guess the number one thing on my "To Do" list should be going to the store. However, my house is filled with men right now that are ripping out the doors and filling my house with flies and spreading saw dust everywhere! This is a job they started seven weeks ago and my house as been sitting in construction mode since that time. Evidently, they ordered the wrong sizes on the the doors and had to reorder. It will be nice when they are all finished.

I find myself wishing for the cooler days that are less stressful when the harvest is in and we can kick back a little bit. Those days will come soon enough and with them will come different challenges. So, I will be thankful for the busy summer days and be content with what life has to offer me today.


A Dog's Purpose

I got this in an email and thought it was really good.

Dog's Purpose (from a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.'

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, 'People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?' The Six-year-old continued, 'Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.'

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.



Every summer we set out about 200 tomato plants. When the harvest comes in, we sell the best looking tomatoes and I can the one's that are not quite as nice.

So, guess what I am doing today?

Livng With Little Bull Is Challenging!

Little Bull has a bad attitude. He blows and paws the ground. He rubs his head in the dirt and mud. He rams the posts and buildings. I can't go into the field with him and this makes milking a challenge. I have to get the cows in to a little holding area and Little Bull wants to come along. When I lock him out of the holding pen, he gets mad. In addition to just being a young bull that is dealing with raging hormones, we think he might be acting this way in part because he is fed grain at his house and we do not feed him grain. I have always heard that feeding grain to a bull makes them mean but I never really stopped to think about it as we never fed our bulls grain. Little Bull has been raised a lot different than how we raise our bulls. Comparing him with the bulls that we have raised according to the methods Temple Grandin encourages in her article, I will definitely continue to advocate her methods. Once a bull, always a bull, and a bull should never be trusted. However, some sure can be easier to work with than others!

The pictures above show little bull with some of the herd, as well as a picture of Little bull with my two tallest standard cows. We know he's got a big attitude. When these two big girls come in heat, we will see if his attitude is enough to enable him to get the job done. It's definitely not going to be easy for him to reach them.

In the mean time, I guess we will just have to live with the challenge of Little Bull or I will have to resort to AI (Artificial Insemination).

I really hope little bull can get the job done in "short" order!


More Pictures of Our Newest Baby!

It's (another) Boy!

My Jersey heifer bred to my mini Jersey bull Peanut calved this morning. She made it look so easy and looks like she is going to be a great mom. Of course, we got another bull calf. We have had calves from three different bulls and have a total of 15 bull calves and 5 heifers for the last three years with our Jersey and Jersey cross calves.


Never a Dull Moment!

I was challenged to spend 15 minutes a day getting caught up on my paperwork but I have not made it there yet! I did in fact go to the desk to start, but was called away. I never made it back and my 15 minute challenge is looming over me!

In the mean time, my life has been filled with both the mundane and the adventures of farm life. Yesterday I canned 1/2 bushel of tomatoes making seven quarts of tomato juice. That is only a fraction of what I will do before the summer is over, but I had to start somewhere!

Yesterday afternoon Little Bull~Dudley was delivered to our farm. He is a miniature bull that was raised here on our farm until he was about four months old at which time I sold him to a local lady. He is now the perfect age to service the females, and when I decided not to AI (artificially inseminate), I called up his owner and asked her if I could lease him for a while. He was very good when his owner took him off the trailer and led him down to the fence. In fact, when the dogs (who were in their own little yard with a fence between them and Dudley) barked at him, he did no more than glance in their direction. However, Little Bull~Dudley shows signs of really having an attitude. His older brother was my bull Peanut that I completely dam raised and was never handled and who was a perfect gentleman in the field. Dudley was started the same way, but his new owner has handled him differently and he definitely has some aggressive tendencies. We put all the lactating cows in the back field with the bull where the fence is the best. We kept the dry cows and Princess, the heifer in the front field where the fence is pretty much just a deterrent and could easily be stepped over if the cows decided they wanted to do so. So, in order for me to milk, the lactating cows have to come from the back field and through a series of gates. This works fine until one decides not to come because I have changed the routine. While Mayfield was trying to decide whether the new routine was worth her effort, I decided that I was not going in the field with Little Bull~Dudley. That was a wise move because later when Mike went in the field with him, he definitely showed some attitude. It's really a shame, as Little Bull~Dudley is a fine specimen of a miniature Jersey bull.

We tried to get to supper before 9pm and we were actually successful! We ate a little after 8pm!

This morning, Mike started the milking and I finished it because he had to go on down and get produce up on the table at the farm. Afterwards, I finished cleaning out the chicken house. (One of the projects I started but didn't finish yesterday.) Then, I decided to clean out the feed room at the end of the stables where I keep my bantam chickens and my lame chicken.

The little lame chicken was one that I hatched out with my incubator this spring. She/He was born with a leg that is completely stiff and a foot that is turned under backwards. I know we should have "culled" the chicken out of the flock, but Mike and I both felt sorry for him. I let him live with my bantams because they tolerate him and don't pick on him. When I began cleaning out their house, all of the bantams flew out the door to free range for a while. The lame chicken, a Rhode Island Red, finally limped outside and around the corner. When I was all finished shovelling chicken poop, I went around the corner and could not believe my eyes. There was the lame chicken and Little Dave, my mini Jersey bull calf. Dave was grooming the chicken! I watched for a few moments as Dave gently licked the chickens feathers and "comforted" him and then went on about my business.

About a half an hour later, I came back and could not believe my eyes! Now Little Dave had been joined by Zorro, the mini Jersey steer and they were both grooming the chicken! I would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes! They were gentle with the chicken and the chicken seemed completely comfortable with all the attention he was getting. The two calves would gently nudge the chicken and the chicken stayed right with them. At one point, the bird began to limp off and Zorro reached out and used his mouth to grab the lame chickens leg and pull him back. The truth is definitely stranger than fiction.

In the mean time, while I was spending all this time cleaning in the barnyard, three of my adult dogs were at the house barking their heads off. They had been barking at a juvenile skunk for over an hour. This little skunk had been tormenting us for the last couple of weeks. Once he was out walking around the house and the dogs cornered him against the house and fortunately did so without getting sprayed. Because he was so close to the house, Mike was not able to shoot him. Mike followed him from a distance and saw him go under the landing of the steps at our front porch. Mike waited for what seemed like an hour for that little skunk to come out so that he could get him, but the little skunk was smart enough to stay where he would be safe.

Since the little skunk had already managed to spray the dogs this morning, I figured I would just let them try to get him. The damage had already been done and it would at least be rewarding to not have to deal with the stinky little fellow anymore. When I got back to the house, I was "rewarded" with three very disgusting smelling dogs who were quite proud of their accomplishments. They presented me with a dead skunk. Of course, since there was a dead skunk laying on my front porch, I had to do something with it before folks started arriving to pick up their milk shares!

I wonder how many weeks or months it will be until my house and dogs no longer smell like skunk?

Never a dull moment!

(Pictures of Dudley as a calf and as a 14 month old bull)


I Hate Shopping!

I usually have to go grocery shopping about once a month. If I shopped like I did when I lived in Alaska and bought in bulk, I would only have to shop once every six months. I liked it better that way.

Grocery shopping I tolerate because I have to. To shop for anything else.............well, I put it off as long as I possibly can. When I do go shopping, I shop like a man with a goal in mind. Get in the store and out of the store as fast as you possibly can!

For instance, recently for Mike's nieces wedding, I was asked to help serve. I knew I needed a dress that looked "current". I had not bought any clothes other than Carharts in about two years. So, in typical "man" fashion, I thought through the details of what I would be searching for. Then, I went into the mall on a mission walking a steady pace and charging in to the first clothing store I could find. A quick look around told me that nothing was jumping out at me. I did this in two other stores and then spotted a store with a dress on the wall. I quickly asked the sales clerk what size it was. She responded that it was a six. Perfect. I had her take it down, I tried it on, I paid for the dress and was out of the store in less than ten minutes!

We recently got new windows in our house and we took down the blinds that covered the old windows. I dislike blinds. I would rather have windows that are open and most of mine have only a valance at the top so that I can see the beautiful views. However, for some reason my husband insists that we need privacy for the bathrooms and bedrooms. So, I went today after church to look for curtains.

All I can say is I hate shopping. We looked at four different stores and I walked away with nothing.

Maybe I will just make my own curtains. Not a bad idea, but it means I have to go shop for material and I have to find the time to make them!

I think windows without curtains are wonderful. I think I will put this off as long as I possibly can!


October Beans

We have the most beautiful October beans in our garden this year! October beans are also known as Horticulture beans and Cranberry Beans. They are so beautiful with their pink swirls and opening the pods to extract the beans is fun because each bean has a different pattern. Sometimes one will even find a solid colored bean. The beans have a nice flavor that is not overwhelming and can either be shelled and frozen "green" or left to dry. In the fall, I will often times shell out the dried beans after they have been left on the vines and store them in jars or canisters.